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(6 March 1809 – 25 January 1870 / Indian Hill / Ohio)

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Childhood

Childhood, sweet and sunny childhood,
With its careless, thoughtless air,
Like the verdant, tangled wildwood,
Wants the training hand of care.

See it springing all around us --
Glad to know, and quick to learn;
Asking questions that confound us;
Teaching lessons in its turn.

Who loves not its joyous revel,
Leaping lightly on the lawn,
Up the knoll, along the level,
Free and graceful as a fawn?

Let it revel; it is nature
Giving to the little dears
Strength of limb, and healthful features,
For the toil of coming years.

He who checks a child with terror,
Stops its play, and stills its song,
Not alone commits an error,
But a great and moral wrong.

Give it play, and never fear it --
Active life is no defect;
Never, never break its spirit --
Curb it only to direct.

Would you dam the flowing river,
Thinking it would cease to flow?
Onward it must go forever --
Better teach it where to go.

Childhood is a fountain welling,
Trace its channel in the sand,
And its currents, spreading, swelling,
Will revive the withered land.

Childhood is the vernal season;
Trim and train the tender shoot;
Love is to the coming reason,
As the blossom to the fruit.

Tender twigs are bent and folded --
Art to nature beauty lends;
Childhood easily is moulded;
Manhood breaks, but seldom bends.

Submitted: Tuesday, May 08, 2001


Read poems about / on: childhood, nature, strength, river, child, song, beauty, fear, alone, children, spring

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Comments about this poem (Speak Gently by David Bates )

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  • Michelle Claus (3/24/2014 6:06:00 PM)

    Witnessing a scene in which a child's benign free spirit is clipped, it breaks my heart. I agree with the sentiment of this poem, give a child safe parameters within which to be free and creative. The form of the poem is okay.... Thank you.

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  • Ramesh Rai (3/24/2014 12:31:00 PM)

    Childhood is a fountain welling,
    Trace its channel in the sand,
    And its currents, spreading,
    swelling,
    Will revive the withered land.

  • Francis Lynch (3/24/2014 12:14:00 PM)

    So many future adolescent problems could be avoided with this poem's advice. Some lines could use revision.

  • Shahzia Batool (3/24/2014 11:36:00 AM)

    He who checks a child with terror,
    Stops its play, and stills its song,
    Not alone commits an error,
    But a great and moral wrong.

    all true and tender! ! !

  • Paul Reed (3/24/2014 6:10:00 AM)

    Childhood... will revive the withered land. Wonderful wisdom often forgotten

  • Mary Pagdati (3/24/2012 10:48:00 AM)

    This is truly a superb poem - it touched my heart and I enjoyed it immensly. The beauty of a child's innocence is so magnificent. It's no wonder God urges us to live in that degree of innocence.

  • Biplab Chowdhury (3/24/2012 8:28:00 AM)

    Simple poem, vivid and full of the joy of innocence.

  • Queeny Gona (3/24/2012 7:35:00 AM)

    Well penned, simply superb.
    Voted 10+++++++

  • Udiah Witness to YAH (3/24/2012 5:10:00 AM)

    Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. LK18: 16 (also found in Mat 19: 14, Mk 10: 14) The innocence of a child is what the Lord loves. Today we are so quick in robbing them of that innocence. Just our society itself dictates we must, for their safety alone. It's such a shame. The Lord blessed me to live far enough out of the main stream that my children were able to live their first few years somewhat like my childhood, but alas, they never enjoyed the many free years as I did, they were forced to grow up too fast. Beautiful poem, like a child simple and carefree, while making us think maybe we should allow the child to determine the when as to the time they mature.

  • Soulful Heart (3/24/2012 12:56:00 AM)

    congrats for 'poem of the day'...................great poem full of innocence captured of childhood..............Tender twigs are bent and folded -
    Art to nature beauty lends;
    Childhood easily is moulded; ............................indeed true :)

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